Football Across Europe: September 23 | Manchester Clubs Look to Pull Away

Premier League (England)

Match Week 6 in England gives us a range of interesting matches this weekend. Manchester City is riding high, now level with United atop the table on the heels of a 6-0 thrashing away to Watford. Spurs and Liverpool were held to draws on their home grounds by Swansea and Burnley respectively, and Chelsea and Arsenal battled to a goalless draw in London, which could be a big confidence boost to a Gunners squad seemingly adrift a few short weeks ago. None of the big six clubs play one another this weekend, but four of them hit the road, and there could be some tricky tests in store for the top clubs. Here, we take a look at them:

West Ham vs. Tottenham: The Spurs are riding high but can’t afford another slip-up in the league as they visit troublesome West Ham. The Hammers could give Tottenham serious problems if they continue a recent trend; Spurs have only won once at West Ham in the last four seasons including two successive 0-1 defeats. Currently in fifth, Tottenham’s Harry Kane and Dele Alli will have to be at their brilliant best against a West Ham side that’s struggled with just four points through five games. One positive pointing Tottenham’s way is that the Hammers are tied for the most goals conceded in the league.

Manchester City vs. Crystal Palace: Pep Guardiola’s City bring their world-class form into a Saturday fixture against Crystal Palace, pegging the team atop the EPL table against the only team yet to notch a single point. The Manchester City strike-force of Sergio Agüero and Gabriel Jesus have been unstoppable in recent weeks, as the club produced 15 goals in three matches before a League Cup win to West Brom this week. Crystal Palace have undergone such a treacherous start to their 2017/18 campaign that they fired Frank de Boer after just four matches, replacing him with former England manager Roy Hodgson, who will surely be on a short leash with Palace falling further into the relegation zone.

Southampton vs. Manchester United: The Red Devils take aim at keeping pace with their Manchester rivals and eye three points on a road trip to Southampton. With victory this weekend, Manchester United would equal a club record with 16 points through six matches. Paul Pogba is out with injury, putting the onus on United’s deep midfield to get the job done against the Saints, who are coming off a win and looking to break out of a seven-team deadlock of teams with eight points. United striker Romelu Lukaku has been in fine form with his new club, and could be the first Premier League player to score at St. Mary’s for three different clubs after scoring there for Everton and West Brom.

Stoke City vs. Chelsea: It’s been a trying few days for Stoke City since being the only team to manage a result against Manchester United earlier in the month. They followed that up with a 1-2 loss to newly returned Newcastle last weekend and a 0-2 League Cup defeat to Championship outfit Bristol City midweek. The good news is they are back at home in newly renovated bet365 Stadium on Saturday. The bad news is they welcome the champions of Chelsea to town. Chelsea drew Arsenal last weekend before dispatching Nottingham Forest 5-1 in their League Cup match on Wednesday. They will be without David Luiz who is out through suspension, but Eden Hazard, N’Golo Kanté, and so-far fairly quiet new man Álvaro Morata will still be a lot to handle for the Potters.

Leicester City vs. Liverpool: It’s been a tough slate of games for Leicester, registering only a point against newly promoted Huddersfield in their last three league matches. They will be full of confidence, though, at home in King Power Stadium for the final kickoff this Saturday despite welcoming the Reds of Liverpool to town. For one, Liverpool do not have a win since August in all competitions. For another, Leicester beat Liverpool on the very same ground 2-0 in the League Cup on Tuesday. It will likely be two very different squads on Saturday, but Leicester manager Craig Shakespeare will be happy to hear Liverpool’s already shaky defense may be in crisis mode, with many defensive names on the injury sheet. The Reds will also be without key man Sadio Mané, who is serving suspension time. They should, however, see Philippe Coutinho in close to full-match action after a 45 minute tune up midweek that saw him closer to his usual full speed and dangerous form. Jürgen Klopp will absolutely want to see something positive before his squad flies off to Russia for their Champions League match early next week.